Posted on 25 May 2011 with categories: Showa Monogatari



I still think that the EDs for this series are a very nice touch: showing a different classic song from those days really makes this series even more authentic than it already was. It’s one of the few EDs this season that actually tries to add something to its series.

In any case, I really liked this episode. Half of it was about Kouhei, and the other half about Yuuko. Kouhei surprisingly had his best episode so far, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that he wasn’t alone in this episode: his part was about his entire baseball team. The story about bullying was surprisingly well done here, and it was worth seeing all those kids together. As a group, these kids really are a great character here.

Also, it was a nice touch to show an earthquake there. I suspect that this series was talking about the 1964 Niigata Earthquake, of a magnitude of 7.5. Yet again: it’s impressive to see how well the creators are trying to make this series blend in with the actual history, not to mention that it also was a nice touch to show all this through the eyes of a child, who couldn’t grasp the consequences of such a thing yet.

The next two weeks meanwhile will be the remaining two preview episodes, and with this episode everything nicely falls into place. First of all, this episode really shows the events that lead up to Yuuko’s date going wrong. Also, the fact that within two episodes we’re going to skip to the summer holidays really point to the fact that the creators are intending the 1964 Olympics as the finale of this series. A great idea. It’s especially going to be good for Kouhei’s brother: his storyline can’t be wrapped up that quickly, and something tells me that the creators were intending to put more of Yuuko in the first half, and more of him in the second half of this series.

Also, this episode had a slightly different animation style than usual. The drawings were messier, but at the same time there was more movement and the camera angles were much better than usual. I’ve always found that movement and details have a higher priority than consistency, so this is a change that I liked quite a bit. Ideally you’d of course want animation to both have a lot of movement and be crisp at the same time, but Wao World unfortunately doesn’t have the best animators.

On a side-note: that pool! It’s hard to imagine, but were pools in those days always that filthy?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 24 May 2011 with categories: Steins;Gate



Oh god. Not the cliff-hangers again?! The end of this episode promises many frustrating weeks of waiting what’s going to happen next. Seriously, the end of this episode made me really hungry to see what happens next.

I loved this episode. It was pretty much nothing but Okarin experimenting with making simple changes to the past, some of which failed and some of which succeeded. The ones that did succeed kept taking things a bit further, though, all in ways that seem pretty strange at first. Why did a simple message to change cell phones prevent that cell phone woman to join Okarin? Or did she change something else and just didn’t show it to people? Also, the idea of using pagers to send messages seventeen years back into the past, on something as vague changing genders.

Also, eight episodes in, and I have to say that I really like the cast. Sure, they have their annoying moments,but they’re very well balanced together, filling in for each others’ flaws. I’m usually not into characters doing random things unless I find the characters interesting, and that’s exactly the case here: even when they’re just shopping for bread, I’m interesting in what these characters are doing. This episode in particular just kept juggling its characters around, showing a bit of all of them.

There’s one thing that just keeps catching my attention though, and that especially stands out while making screenshots: this is one series that doesn’t care about consistency in its drawings. In fact, the entire season is full of distorted faces. Especially in the post-quake era it just shows how difficult it is to consistently make the faces of your characters expressive and believable. The shows that do this the best out of this spring season are Hyouge Mono and Ano Hana, by the way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Okay, so I’m going to be covering multiple series this week for this category. People have kept saying over and over that this arc of TWGOK would be something special, and now that I’ve watched it, I do have to say: it was indeed the best arc of the series so far.

Finally, this show bring sin an actually normal girl who is more than just another stereotype come alive. Finally this show actually brings in a boundary between reality and fiction, and finally Keima actually develops. If anything, this episode was refreshing and different, and it was the first major arc since the first episode of the first season that did not feel like a chore. But I do have a few problems with it.

Especially near the end, the girl of this episode turned formulaic again. The whole moral speech-kiss routine actually wasn’t quite different from the other arcs. In fact, every arc has simply ended in the same way. It’s not the first show to do that and things like that can be done well; heck, Jigoku Shoujo turned it into an art and all, but Keima’s moral advice about how she should live… probably was the least interesting part of the entire arc.

That’s just nitpicking, though. The question is: was it worth it sitting through sixteen episodes of mediocrity, just to see this? For that, I unfortunately have to say “no”. I could just as easily have skipped a bunch of arcs, and I wouldn’t have missed anything. The thing is, that at the moment, this series feels like it’s a series where various game characters have escaped into the real world where the main character has to conquer them back, with this arc being the point where he actually has to encounter a real girl. Unlike Gosick, which despite its mediocre episodes did a wonderful job of building up and using this build-up, The World God Only Knows has too little of this to really make me reconsider labelling this as a waste of time. The rest of the series needs to be of at least this calibre for that to happen.

What was up with that Southpark-reference, though? I really noticed that the references this series puts in are… completely random and out of context.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 23 May 2011 with categories: Spring 2011 Kaleidoscope



Aaand thiss is about the point where my patience with Denpa-Onna has run out. I’m going to drop this, but I do want to wrap up my thoughts about this show because it’s not like it started off without any potential. My bias against Shinbo would have dropped this immediately if it sucked completely.

The first three episodes of this show were actually very good. You didn’t know whether there really were aliens and the theories of that cousin were quite interesting to watch. This show was quite dynamic, had good themes, was unpredictable and seemed to have a lot of potential. After that though… this show jumped the shark and pretty much now it tries to stuff material for perhaps 3 or 4 episodes in its nine remaining episodes. The way in which it fills up its extra time is… really annoying.

My big problem here: there has been no good drama for the past four episodes. Instead we get that horny aunt, ditzy classmate and that girl whose only defining trait is that she dresses up in strange costumes. All of them are really annoying. And the main character wasn’t much better. The premise about aliens was nice. Right now however, this show’s themes are just moe pandering:

“Oh no. We have this really cute girl who is completely helpless and mentally challenged and yet everyone in town hates her. The main character is very unfortunate to have to take care of her.” This is nothing but the excuses that moe pandering shows always make, only even worse.

Also, the dialogue has the Bakemonogatari syndrome. It’s not as bad, but that possibly makes it even worse because that means that it stands out even less. There is a lot of dialogue in this series, but in the end, what do these characters really talk about? They just keep repeating themselves over and over again, and they. Just. Won’t. Shut. The hell. Up. This show majorly lacks inspiration to fill its time.

Compare that to Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru: its characters were annoying, but it always had something nice to discuss, the characters were always doing something interesting and it was always trying to be varied. It’s characters like these that were genuine and fun to watch. Denpa-Onna is just annoying, and I’m glad that Shaft is not going to output any new series for the upcoming summer season. Let them put some actual work in making one series, instead of a bunch of mediocre ones.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 22 May 2011 with categories: Deadman Wonderland



This series is crazy.I mean, this was already apparent and all, but this episode again was just completely out there. This episode was again disturbing and again in a different way than before.

The use of a cute girl for a fourteen year old boy… as if he wasn’t tortured enough already. It’s a good thing that this girl likes to make her victims suffer and all, but that act of hers was great on hindsight. Sure there was fanservice and all, but that was more like functional nude than fanservice. I’m not sure whether the manga had an explanation of why her brother found her at exactly the right time and all, but even then this was a ridiculously intense and crazy episode.

It’s just a shame that the animation in this series wasn’t up to the usual Manglobe standards. Because of that the distorted faces of that girl sometimes became a bit stupid. At the same time though, Ganta cursing his heart out at the end was just awesome.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



Ooh, this episode was very good! It probably even was the best episode since episode 2, but at the same time it still was nothing like these first two episodes. The key of this episode was suddenly getting a lot of customers to book a room at the same day while three of the staff members were either sick or had a day off. The stress in keeping things running and the build-up of this were really well done here.

On top of that, the added chaos also showed different sides of everyone, and nearly everyone was enjoyable to watch. The only one who wasn’t was that Takako-woman, but she served her purpose in making things even more hectic by focusing on the mystery guests. This is the pace that this series needs to keep up.

This episode was forced, though. It’s one thing for Grandmother to collapse on such a busy day, but Kou also just had the perfect timing. Not to mention that this set-up was perfect again for fueling the Tohru love triangle that I never really was a fan of. That’s one thing that this series still needs to convince me that it’s going to be worth the build-up.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Tiger & Bunny



This episode really took me by surprise at how good it was, and it did that multiple times, actually. I mean, holy crap, this episode just kept throwing twists and turns, and even the mood just kept changing throughout the episode. You’ll never know what this show will focus on next. This time, we’ve gotten ourselves an Origami episode.

I love how Origami turned out to be completely different from his Superhero persona. Before this, he always stayed in the shadows, but he seemed like another quirky guy, but it was almost cute to see what kind of a pessimist he actually was, on top of being the worst ranked superhero out there (also subverting another cliche of the lead character either being the best, semi-best or worst out there). On top of that, this episode also gave a different meaning to Lunatic by having him mot kill some random stranger, but instead an old friend of Origami (that guy also got some interesting development despite only appearing in one episode, by the way).

The parts at the superhero academy had me in stitches. This episode indeed confirmed that it’s difficult to become a superhero like that, but I did not expect to see these incredibly stupid and pointless powers out there, from being able to stretch out facial skin to sweating really badly. In a way, it does make sense: if people are born randomly with useful powers like in Tiger’s case, there also will be probably even more people born with pointless powers that are only good for a novelty act. Heck, Origami’s powers are completely different from what I expected: his powers are mostly just useless in this kind of setting. He should have been a secret agent or something.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on with categories: Ao no Exorcist



I really like it when a show packs variety, both in the short and the long run. Having said that though, this episode was just a bad idea entirely.

I mean… what was that? I encourage this series to try something different for a while, with its cliches and all, and I understand what this episode was trying to do. Heck, the only thing I liked about this episode is how it showed Rin’s passion for cooking. That’s fine, and a good way to make him more than your average shounen lead. But couldn’t they really have picked a better way to show this?

This entire episode was just lacklustre. The whole concept of the headmaster summoning a demon to secretly do the cooking for the two brothers just makes no sense, especially considering that Rin can cook for himself. And on top of that this episode also for some reason introduced these cardboard boxes of fangirls who wanted to make lunches for Yukio. There was so much wrong with this episode, from the headmaster summoning a demon who cooks his own students to Rin who just wouldn’t stop screaming in this episode. Even for his standards, this got annoying.

Here’s the thing: Hana-Saku Iroha’s third episode in comparison also was just weird and out of place, but it still retained the charms of its series: the characters were still interesting to watch despite its questionable subject material. Ao no Exorcist’s charms are that it takes the shounen formula and executes it well. Nothing of that remained in this episode.
Rating: — (Lacking)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews




Ah, Ascension: the new promising production company, spawned apparently from Sunrise. I originally thought that Kizuna Ichigeki from the Young Animator Training Project was their debut, but as it turns out their first work is the movie Colorful. After this, they stand out even more as a force to be reckoned with, because here they actually got themselves a number of good writers.

Colorful is a slice of life movie. This is a crowded genre at the moment, but it holds itself up very nicely. It’s perhaps not the best, but the character development is definitely worth it. It doesn’t follow the formula of “first half slice of life second half drama”, but instead it blends in both parts very nicely, taking the time to slowly show his character in his every day life, along with the problems he has and how he develops. The drama is good and quite genuine at times as well.

Kou Outani developed a solid soundtrack, and the animation is also simple, but detailed: not the best for a movie, but there is still quite a nice amount of movement. Characters move life-like, and the animation and voice actors succeed pretty well in portraying the characters throughout the movie. It does have a number of flaws that prevent it from being a great movie, though.

This movie was directed by the same guy who directed Kappa to Coo to Natsuyasumi, and pretty much suffers from the same problem in that it perhaps does not make the best use of its time. It’s the build-up that leaves things to be desired and feels incomplete at times, which prevents the drama from really reaching great heights.

Second of all, and this is a complaint that I’ve seen mentioned by some others already: the ending is… a bit of a downer ending. It’s not like it’s rushed or anything, and neither is it a plothole ending, but it’s the kind of ending that tries to shove its messages down the viewers throats, and they weren’t messages that I personally agree with. For the sake of spoilers I’ll only say that this movie does not use its premise well enough. Beyond that though, it’s a very solid movie that’s worth the watch if you’re into slice of life dramas.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Really well written dialogue, but misses something in terms of building up.
Characters: 9/10 – Excellent and life-like portrayal and development.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Nothing special for movie standards, but the animation remains impressively detailed. Especially the background art is consistently great.
Setting: 8/10 – Don’t watch this movie for its premise; watch it for its characters and how they fit into their daily lives.

Suggestions:
Junkers Come Here
Whisper of the Heart
Kappa to Coo to Natsuyasumi

Posted on with categories: X-Men



With this episode, this show proved that Madhouse’s Marvel Franchise isn’t going to be purely about action. The talk between Scott and Emma? That was some good drama there, and it had nothing to do with action.On top of that, there was this entire air of mystery around this episode that made all the build-up really intriguing. That’s what build-up episodes should be: they’re mandatory for good storytelling, but at the same time they do not need to break the mood. This episode instead just changed the mood, and I’m glad to see that it worked out well.

At the moment, there are two major pitfalls right now for this series. The first is its bad guy problem: they’re all boring and uninteresting. The two minions that were introduced in this episode? Who are they? The major bad guy? Why should I care about him? The sole salvation for this series at this point will be for them to turn that Sasaki teacher into a bad guy: this episode turned her into the by far most interesting villain here, her co-workers included. With an episode named “betrayal”, there were enough hints that the creators are actually planning this. Heck, screw the rest of the bad guys. Focus more on these guys!

Also, this episode confirmed my fears: Hisako is turning into a walking plot device. It also doesn’t really help her case that she has by far the worst voice actress of the entire series, but it’s also the way in which her only purpose in this episode was to prepare for her to run into Sasaki in the next episode. I still find it strange for the X-Men, who take care of who knows how many mutant children, would just insert her into the X-Men like that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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